Managers Are Just Not Creative Enough – True or False?


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On a personal level I am from a design background and so use my creative skills to design and develop various business initiatives. However, I find that there are very few people in the business world that can tap into their creative talent and very few people actually ‘doodle’ or ‘sketch’. As a professional, I sketch almost daily, within team meetings, client interactions; brain storming sessions, the list goes on… The entire wall of our studio is covered with sketches, mapping out everything from phone conversations to rough training activities, to the more serious presentations for large corporates. As business continues to drive positive change in the world, creativity is an increasingly essential part of organizational success. Encouraging creativity is a vital function of good leadership.

Why Sketch or Doodle?

In the first instance scribbling and sketching can release you from getting bogged down in technology and focus you on finding the perfect business solution, so freeing you to take risks that you might not otherwise have taken. I love mood boards because they help us understand our clients, their objectives and how they’d like their brand to feel. It’s so important to us that we work with the client to identify what feels right as well as looks great, and mood boards really unlock the gap between what a client says they want (or even thinks they want) and what they actually want. Our vision boards on our studio walls are our most powerful way that we visualise our goals and keep 100% focused on everything we do.

Books To Read And Videos To Watch.

In her book ‘Game Storming: A Playbook for Innovators, Rule breakers, and Change Makers’ Sunni Brown writes how creating an environment for creative thinking and innovation can be a daunting challenge to any organisation. Her book includes more than 80 games to help you break down barriers, communicate better, and generate new ideas, insights, and strategies. There is a unique collection of games that encourage engagement and creativity while bringing more structure and clarity to the workplace. I highly recommend it as a toolkit.

In her TED talk Sunni goes on to explain the benefits of doodling and even offers an alternative to the definition found in the Oxford Dictionary: “Doodling is really to make spontaneous marks to help yourself think. That is why millions of people doodle. Here’s another interesting truth about the doodle: People who doodle when they’re exposed to verbal information retain more of that information than their non-doodling counterparts. We think doodling is something you do when you lose focus, but in reality, it is a pre-emptive measure to stop you from losing focus. Additionally, it has a profound effect on creative problem-solving and deep information processing.”

visualise your work

Background History of The ‘Doodle’

“In the 17th century, a doodle was a simpleton or a fool, as in “Yankee Doodle.” In the 18th century, it became a verb, and it meant to swindle or ridicule or to make fun of someone. In the 19th century, it was a corrupt politician. And today, we have what is perhaps our most offensive definition, at least to me, which is the following: “To doodle officially means to dawdle, to dilly dally, to monkey around, and to make meaningless marks, to do something of little value, substance or import and,”my personal favorite, “to do nothing.” No wonder people are averse to doodling at work!


According to Linda Silverman, author of ‘Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual Spatial Learner Upside-Down Brilliance’. The Visual-Spatial Learner, 37% of the population are visual learners. If so many people learn better visually, we can expect, then, that some of them learn better by putting a speech, lecture or meeting into visual and tangible form through pictures or doodles, rather than by being provided with pictures or doodles (which would be the product of another person’s mind). Humans have always had a desire to visually represent what’s in their minds and memory and to communicate those ideas with others. Even early cave paintings were a means of interacting with others, allowing ideas and images to move from one person’s mind to another’s. The purpose of visual language has always been to communicate ideas to others. A sketch or a doodle is to, visually commit to memory a concept that we want to both empathize and interact with.

Recently I came across a book called ‘Back Of The Napkin: Solving Problems And Selling Ideas With Pictures’ by Dan Roam. Roam’s original book provides a whole new way of looking at business problems and ideas. He demonstrates how thinking with pictures can help you discover and develop new ideas, solve problems in unexpected ways, and dramatically improve your ability to share your insights with others. He quotes;”What if there was a way to more quickly look at problems, more intuitively understand them, more confidently address them, and more rapidly convey to others what we’ve discovered?

What if there was a way to make business problem solving more efficient, more effective, and — as much as I hate to say it — perhaps even more fun? There is. It’s called visual thinking, and it’s what this book is all about: solving problems with pictures.” But just how do working walls in a business environment become an invaluable commodity in design thinking?

Tim Brown, president and CEO of IDEO says “Design thinking is a human-centred approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” meeting-glass

The Conclusion.

Fundamentally if we all think like designers we will actually be able to transform the way our organizations develop their services, processes, and strategy. We can show the way to people who aren’t trained as designers to use creative tools to address a vast range of everyday business challenges.

Creativity can be a great strength in the culture of an organisation, its approach and alignment can be at the very heart and soul of success in any discipline or industry.

Creative thinking in business starts with having empathy for your customers (whether they’re internal or external), and you certainly can’t get that just sitting behind a desk! . .So why not use those yellow Post-its and marker pens to creatively solve each problem your organisation has. Go on a journey map it on the walls. So, what are you waiting for? Doodle!

Cheryl Gregory
I am Managing Director and Design Director for my own Company, 'The Customer's Shoes Ltd' and 'Our Training Cloud'. We are a niche Consulting Company with a passion for the Customer Experience/Training and Development. Visit my websites at; and Follow me on Twitter at; Join my Linkedin Group at; - See more at:


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